Behold the 2015 baseball win totals from Bovada that were released earlier this week. If the odds-makers at Bovada know anything, 15 teams are projected to finish within 3½ games of .500. Alternately: parity, thy name is Selig.
Let’s take a division-by-division look. Remember last year the Vegas over/unders foresaw the Royals finishing around .500 and didn’t predict the Red Sox miserable year or the Angels surprise 98-win campaign.
- Boston Red Sox 86½
- Baltimore Orioles 82½
- Toronto Blue Jays 82½
- New York Yankees 81½
- Tampa Bay Rays 78½
Overvalued: Boston — On paper, yes, the Sox acquired plenty of talent, namely Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, along with a bunch of groundball pitchers to eat up innings. Boston won 71 games last year after cashing in its chips after the All Star Break. Now the entire baseball world expects this new-look team to immediately rise right back to the top. Call me cautiously skeptical about the Red Sox, even in the wide-open American League East.
Enigma: New York — Maybe if Masahiro Tanaka’s UCL doesn’t snap in half, Brian McCann finds the short porch at Yankee Staium and all the Yankees aging players, A-Rod included, dial back the clock they crack .500. Otherwise this team could be a wreck.
Undervalued: Toronto — If you put stock in wins above replacement (WAR), the Jays made two great acquisitions in Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin. Toronto won 83 games last year without either player, although it’s hard not to recall 2013 when the Jays added Jose Reyes, R.A. Dickey, et al and floundered out of the gates. Toronto’s pitching is still suspect, but that lineup is going to mash the ball out of SkyDome.
- Detroit Tigers 84½
- Cleveland Indians 83½
- Chicago White Sox 81½
- Kansas City Royals 79½
- Minnesota Twins 70½
Overvalued: Detroit — There are red flags popping up all over the Max Scherzer-less Tigers, namely the health of Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, saying nothing of a fetid bullpen situation and Justin Verlander’s regression to a $25 million fourth starter. Perhaps the Tigers hit April with minimal expectations and surprise, but without starting pitching to lean back on this could be a catastrophe.
Enigma: Chicago — The White Sox made a slew of moves to supplement the Chris Sale/Jose Abreu foundation, but just how much has this team improved? Layman’s logic says David Robertson + Jeff Samardzija + Melky Cabrera + Adam LaRoche (+ a healthy Avisail Garcia) = success, but the projections don’t quite mesh with that thinking figuring a mild improvement from last year’s 73 wins.
Undervalued: Minnesota — Let’s call this a mild undervalue, but the Twins lineup is surprisingly decent and if any of the club’s prospects, Aaron Hicks, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, ever get going a slight improvement is possible. Ervin Santana might not be a headline acquisition, but does help improve the rotation, in earnest. Cleveland, too, could touch on 85+ wins if its offense improves and sterling starting pitching doesn’t regress.
- Los Angeles Angels 89½
- Seattle Mariners 86½
- Oakland Athletics 80½
- Texas Rangers 77½
- Houston Astros 74½
Overvalued: Los Angeles — The Angels didn’t do much to change last year’s 98-game winners, unless you consider trading Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers and getting Matt Joyce from the Rays significant. Their best pitcher, Garrett Richards, came out of nowhere last season and became a four-win player before tearing up his knee. He’s just begun throwing this month. Houston and Seattle are improved, which could cut into the Halos win totals, saying nothing of the status of fading outfielder Josh Hamilton.
Enigma: Oakland — The A’s are banking on a lot of pitchers such as Jarrod Parker coming back from injury and a reshuffled deck that includes Ben Zobrist. Billy Beane knows how to build winners (during the regular season) but this team seemed far removed from whatever mojo propelled it in 2013 and 2014 prior to the Cespedes/Lester swap.
Undervalued: Houston — To borrow an old line from Jake Taylor the 2015 Astros are almost a real team, “with uniforms and everything.” This year the Astros have a full season of George Springer and they’ve improved the bullpen — an area bad teams lose games — with the additions of Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek. Houston won 70 last season and a five-game improvement this year isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
- Washington Nationals 92½
- Miami Marlins 81½
- New York Mets 81½
- Atlanta Braves 73½
- Philadelphia Phillies 68½
Overvalued: Miami — Yes, the Marlins grabbed positive headlines for a change, extending Giancarlo Stanton and adding a couple other pieces like Mike Morse, Dee Gordon and Mat Latos … but … the starting rotation, pending Jose Fernandez’s return sometime in late June still underwhelms.
Enigma: Nationals — If any team in baseball flirts with 100 wins, it’s the Nats. Does that apply to the postseason? Guess that doesn’t apply to a post on over/unders, but the Braves and Phillies numbers within the division look appropriate.
Undervalued: New York — If you weren’t paying attention the Mets won 79 games last year and they get Matt Harvey back into the rotation. Tread lightly, as always, with the Metropolitans.
- St. Louis Cardinals 88½
- Pittsburgh Pirates 83½
- Chicago Cubs 82½
- Milwaukee Brewers 78½
- Cincinnati Reds 77½
Enigma: Chicago — To make it short and sweet, Vegas is either going to make a killing or get taken to the cleaners via the Cubs preseason projections — at one point they were in the Top 5 to win the 2015 World Series. What’s that line about the house always winning?
Undervalued: Pittsburgh — Maybe? The Pirates hailing within 90 wins means the Cubs aren’t quite as good as expected or the Red or Brewers backslide even further.
- Los Angeles Dodgers 92½
- San Diego Padres 85½
- San Francisco Giants 84½
- Arizona Diamondbacks 71½
- Colorado Rockies 71½
Overvalued: Los Angeles — What we know is the Dodgers new braintrust made a ton of moves in December. What we don’t know is how much better the team will be after losing marquee players like Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp, something starter Zack Greinke agrees with, too. Finishing with 92½ wins wouldn’t be much of a drop-off from last season’s 94-win total. There’s just so much uncertainty that expecting 90+ win is a lot, regardless of the team’s $200+ million payroll. The saving grace? 19 games apiece vs. Arizona and Colorado and some guy named Clayton Kershaw every fifth day.
Enigma: San Diego — Like the White Sox, the Padres made a ton of moves, but did the get that much appreciably better — or in line for the fourth-best win total in the National League via these odds? James Shields stabilizes the rotation, if nothing else. Both Wil Myers and Matt Kemp come with question marks. Most projections, like FanGraphs, have San Diego still finishing under .500 let alone winning 86 games.
- Toronto over 82½
- Washington over 92½
- San Diego under 85½